Azores Dive Travel Guide - Bluewater Dive Travel


Fish against a backdrop of an opening in the reef
A rusty anchor on the ocean floor with a scuba diver in the background

Scuba Diving in Azores, Portugal

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Azores diving highlights

Consisting of 9 beautiful islands, the Azores Archipelago boasts a variety of geographical diversity and a number of vacation activities. Each island features unique attractions, cuisine, and cultural charm. Suspended in the volcanic Atlantic between Europe and North America, this Portuguese island group has developed its own special identity throughout its dynamic history, and today boasts natural beauty and friendly, welcoming residents.


Dive Overview

The underwater realm of the Azores present divers with intriguing topography and diversity of dive sites. A subtropical oceanic climate combines with the rich waters of the Gulf Stream, creating a healthy ecosystem that is rich with marine life.  

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Diving Information 

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The Azores Marine Life & Environment

The relative isolation of the island group means the dive environment has remained pristine. Many of the Azores dive centers prioritize environmental conservation and educational eco-tourism, protecting the unspoiled beauty that attracts scuba divers from all over the world. A few of the varied sites include swim-throughs and caves created by ancient lava flow, giant crater lakes, and World War II shipwrecks.

As it is surrounded by the wide-open Atlantic, the Azores serve as a veritable beacon for whales. Resident sperm whales are joined by migratory blue, fin, humpback, minke, and sei whales plus orcas and several species of dolphins. The peak of whale spotting season is early spring, a period that also features a rare sight: Portuguese man o' war amass here in the thousands, thriving in the rich waters before vanishing as the temperatures increase.

An up-and-coming destination for shark diving, scuba centers are now facilitating blue and mako shark encounters in the deep blue water setting. Manta rays are also prevalent in these outstanding depths, along with occasional whale sharks, hammerheads, and a wide array of large fish.

For similar diving, have you considered scuba diving Red Sea?

Mediterranean parrotfish, large grouper, triggerfish, rainbow wrasse, red scorpion fish, yellowmouth barracuda, ocean sunfish, devil rays, and sea turtles are just a few of the hundreds of coastal marine species thriving in this rich environment. These waters are also home to several species of nudibranchs and other macro subjects.


Diving Conditions

  • Water Temperature: Range from 63-77ºF (16-24ºC)
  • Visibility: The best visibility in the Azores is found from June to October, when it can reach up to an impressive 90 feet.
  • Weather: The Azores have a maritime subtropical climate, the average temperature is 17ºC/63ºF



Best dive sites in Azores

  • Santa Maria - It's a very popular site due to the large number of marine species that can be found in its 10 dive sites. Santa Maria gives you the opportunity to dive with whale sharks during the summer, and in Ambrosio, three miles from the coast, there's the chance to dive with many mobulas tarapacana.
  • Pico - Home to Pico Volcano, the highest point in the Azores, Pico Island also offers a variety of dive spots, with steep walls, canyons, pinnacles and sand plateaus on the coast. It also gives you access to one of the best dives offshore, Princess Alice, where you can dive with the mantas.
  • Sao Miguel - Sao Miguel is the largest island in the Azores archipelago. It offers exceptional visibility, a variety of shallow rocky reefs, arches, caves, World War II wrecks, and a rich marine life in subtropical waters.
  • Dom João de Castro bank - This underwater volcano will provide you with the cleanest waters and greater visibility in the Azores archipelago. You'll encounter vertiginous walls which attract amazing pelagic creatures like schools of tuna fish, wahoos, sea turtles or mobulas, to an area full of wildlife typically found in the Atlantic Ocean.


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Travel Information 

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How to Get There

Many international airports fly directly to Sao Miguel, their largest island. But you'll have to fly to Lisbon and get a connecting flight with SATA if you want to visit the other islands.  


How to Dive the Azores

There are a lot of dive resorts and dive operators available in the archipelago. Most dive operators insist upon very small groups (approximately 6) in order to ensure the protection of the underwater environment and the marine life. This is particularly strictly enforced for large mammal and shark excursions.  


Best Time to Dive

The Azores dive season is in the summer, from June to around October. It is when they have warmer temperatures and calmer seas.  


Topside & Non-Diving Activities 

The volcanic quality of the Azores has created magnificent natural sights and experiences, including stunning lakes in volcano craters, hot springs, and dramatic peaks and valleys. There are abundant topside activities including golf, hiking, geo-tourism, canyoning, bike tours, horseback riding, paragliding, bird watching, canoeing, kayaking, whale watching, yachting, big game fishing, and surfing. Snorkeling is also considered a central activity to the Azores, with plenty of shallow water attractions to enjoy.

Nightlife is sociable and the local residents are exceedingly friendly. Each island culture boasts its own special cuisines and traditions. With 9 diverse islands to choose from, no matter the interest, the Azores hold a special experience for everyone.

Find out more about the Azores' unique topside wildlife.


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Other Useful Information 

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Practical Information

  • Currency: Euro
  • Language: The official language in Azores is Portuguese, but you can expect English to be spoken by most people involved with tourism
  • Time Zone: UTC-1
  • Electricity: 230 V 50 Hz

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Reviews (1)


We chose a liveaboard over just day trips as you can reach the most popular dive site of 'Princess Alice', its a deep ocean pinnacle that sits at 35m and attracts huge schools of Mobula, Jacks, Tuna and Barracuda, I have never seen so many fish at once in all my life! We did mostly line diving here, we saw hundreds of Mobula at once and I was lucky enough to see a whale shark here too! Then for the Blue Shark dives its line diving also and we got to dive the whole day with them. We would drop down on the line at around 8m and just sit there and watch as the Blues came up and touched us and swam between us and around us, it was amazing! Then when we got low on air we would go back to the boat and change our tanks to come straight back down when we wanted to. The shore dives were ok, but nowhere near as exciting as the deep stuff, it also got a lot colder closer to the shore, a lot of the other divers with us did love the topography of the closer sites though. I feel the cold a lot and was wearing an 8mm suit with hood and gloves (you have to wear gloves around the Blues) but next time I would bring a dry-suit! We also saw dolphins, false killer whales, turtles and a baby sperm whale from the boat which was super cool!
We climbed Pico Mountain, a dormant volcano, at the end of our trip; (don't forget your no-fly times as it sits as 2300m high). I definitely recommend going with a guide for the hike and be prepared for a long day, we took around nine hours in total and we wernt the slowest, but the view from the crater (on a good weather day) is worth it; we could see the other islands of Faial & Sao Jorge.
We hired a car to explore, as you can make it around the island in around two hours, we did it in six as we stopped at every single viewpoint and meals too. There are so many beautiful stops along the way where you can enjoy the view of surrounding islands, the Unesco heritage vineyards and the black lava that covers most of Pico.
We took another day to explore Faial, which was only a short ferry ride. Horta is the town here and is the midway point for boats when crossing the Atlantic, it was lovely to see all the different boats and to explore the streets and old buildings.
I would definitely dive the Azores again, although next time with a dry suit!

Visited on 07/2020 - Submitted on 12/08/2023


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